In a Northern California high school, school official ordered students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn the shirts inside out during the Mexican heritage celebration of Cinco de Mayo. A group of students who were ordered to turn their shirts inside out sued the school/school district saying that the students’ freedom of expression rights had been violated. The case has now gone to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has ruled that the school acted appropriately because the school officials had concerns of racial violence and those concerns outweighed the students’ rights. The school feared the American flag shirts would enflame the passions of the Latino students who were celebrating the Cinco de Mayo holiday. The school has a history of problems between white and Latino student on May 5. The court unanimously ruled that these past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions. Typcially, courts have ruled that schools have the right to do whatever actions are necessary to maintain order and control. The attorneys for the students have planned to appeal the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.
How do you feel about this case? Do you believe that the courts are correct in their rulings about the suppression of students’ freedom of expression in situations that could lead to violence and loss of control at the school? Do you think the school officials could have handled this volatile diversity issue in another way? If so, how?